On the actual day of my birthday, my friends and I made the trip to San Juan Capistrano and brunched at Ramos House Cafe. It is quite amazing that only two people in my party had been there before and it took us THIS long to finally give it a try.
The restaurant is basically a cottage, but you won’t be dining inside. Instead, tables and chairs are set up in the ‘garden’ patio area making you feel like you’re eating in someone’s back yard. It is quaint and extremely charming.
Since it was Sunday, a prix fixe menu ($35) is the only option. This includes a glass of champagne, mimosa, juice, tea or coffee as well as a starter and an entree.
I highly suggest the Bloody Mary ($13) even with its hefty price tag, and is not one of the included drinks. I seriously thought about drinking my brunch instead of consuming it. The cocktail is bloody delicious, complete with pickled green and wax beans plus a crab claw to boot.
There were six Small Plates to choose from and most of us opted for Basil Cured Salmon Lox which were thinly sliced lox accompanied with chopped boiled eggs, red onions, chives and microgreens. Out of all the small plates I tried, this was my favorite.
A few chose the Apple Cinnamon Beignets which were stellar as far as beignets go. They weren’t too dense and didn’t taste overly greasy.
A very healthy individual went for the Citrus w/Toasted Almonds & Farmers Cheese but none of us felt obliged to sample his plate so I can’t comment on it.
Fresh Baked Huckleberry Coffee Cake was devoid of any huckleberries in the slice of cake itself although the plate was dotted with a sprinkling of them. The only memorable thing about the cake was how bland it was.
Moving onto the Large Plates, or entree portion of the meal, we found ourselves once again leaning towards the Crab Hash & Bacon Scrambled Eggs & Citrus Cream. Nevertheless, some of us changed our orders to sample a wider variety of dishes. Needless to say it was a good idea at the end of the day because the crab hash was good, but not outstanding.
The black board featured a few items and we ordered the Scotch Quail Egg to try. It was well …. a Scotch quail egg. As far as Scotch eggs go, this was on the decent side — for America — cute but not the best.
Spicy Crab Cake Salad w/Cranberries & Pumpkin Seed Dressing was disappointing. The crab cakes were very mushy with way too much mashed potatoes as filler and not enough crab to really garner them “crab” cakes. They were more potato cakes with crab really.
I did enjoy the Fried Chicken Scramble w/Warm Apple Sauce & Waffles, but just the scramble portion. The waffles were sub par and tasted like they had been earlier and warmed up before serving. The chicken scramble itself was very tasty and I actually preferred it over the crab hash.
Smoked Bacon Scramble w/Wilted Rocket & Apple Fried Potatoes was my favorite of all the dishes the table ordered. But then again, anything with bacon is a sure win, right? The thin slices of fried apples were a great addition and a unique contrast to the usual fried onions or regular shoestring potatoes.
The biscuit which accompanied was the best part of the meal. It was really quite fantastic. I don’t even like biscuits and the one here was fluffy and not the least bit dry.
That’s it for the brunch portion. Desserts are an extra $7 each. We ordered one dessert, Ice Cream Sandwich of the Day which was ginger cookie with vanilla ice cream. The ice cream sandwich isn’t exactly an ice cream sandwich per se but a deconstructed version of it. It was okay, nothing to write home about.
They brought me a dessert for my birthday — Apple Buckle w/Molasses Ice Cream — which frankly was rather nasty. I passed the plate around so everyone could have a taste and the consensus was that the apple buckle was really dry and the ice cream didn’t help much either. Some of us thought it was way too sweet and between the 9 of us, no one wanted a second taste. If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what would.
At the end of the day, Ramos House Cafe is a good “special occasion” place. The atmosphere is what I will remember most about our visit. The food did not impress enough for me wanting to pay another visit any time soon.
Ramos House Cafe
31752 Los Rios Street
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675